Tonight is the night. It’s the two-year anniversary of when our journey began…or at least, when we knew it had begun. It’s the day that I timidly made the call at 10:00 PM on a Saturday night to the on-call OBGYN because I just felt something wasn’t right.
I had spent all evening laying on the couch scouring the internet for pre-term labor symptoms. They are kind of vague, but I supposed that I could check three of the five.
My dad was visiting. I wasn’t being very welcoming. But, he’s my dad and he knew something was wrong. He was sitting at the end of the couch that I was laying on. My feet over his lap. I think he had been watching me for a while. Finally, he put his hand on my foot and asked if everything was alright. I saw the concern in his eyes. (He’s a preemie dad, mind you.) I knew that he felt it too.
I went upstairs, Kyle came up minutes later. I needed someone to tell me I was crazy and that there wasn’t anything wrong. He didn’t. He told me to call the doctor.
I explained everything to the doctor expecting (or at least hoping) he’d be the one to tell me I was overreacting? He didn’t. He took it much more seriously than I ever imagined. I was told to go to the hospital immediately.
Once at the hospital, things very quickly spiraled out of control. We all know the rest of the story, but it’s the anniversaries that are the struggle.
Overnight tonight (April 16/17) is the anniversary of my being admitted to the hospital on strict bed rest.
Sunday is the anniversary of Owen’s birth.
May 24th is the day that I’ve yet been able to write about in detail. Kyle and I talk about it… in bits and pieces. Last year, I could only share a picture.
June 13th…well actually, it was the next morning on the 14th, was the first time that my knees buckled and I slid down the kitchen cupboards in a sob as I learned of the surprise passing of Owen’s first best buddy.
July 11th, Owen was in the OR for six hours. They weren’t sure he could tolerate such a long surgery, but his liver was getting very sick from being exclusively fed TPN since birth. His intestines had to be re-attached in 4 places. Clearly, I must have, but I don’t remember breathing that entire six hours. I was so proud of Owen that day. Once again, he did when a lot of people wondered if he could.
July 31st, after 100 days in the NICU, Owen was finally moved to the feeder grower team. He didn’t stay with the team for long
September 1st, broken bones. Lots of broken bones.
September 25th, Nissen and g-tube. The surgeon kept telling us it would be hard on Owen. I didn’t listen. It was incredibly hard on Owen. It was the first time I really questioned if I was pushing Owen too hard.
October 19th. Home
October 25th/26. Readmitted. Owen’s temporary g-tube stitch came lose. He had a 10 minute operation to change him to the Mic-Key, but had to spend a night – back in his same spot in the NICU – for observation. Surgery #7 was finally an easy one for Owen. I slept in the recliner next to his bed that night and was woken at 6AM to the call that my grandmother passed away that morning.
These are the moments that haunt me. The anniversaries that stretch out before me for the next seven months. I hear it gets easier each year, but I don’t know. Last year was hard in a different way. Last year I was defeated because we were still in the throes of it all. Owen celebrated his first birthday in the PICU on bi-pap with a rate (“rate” means he was being given breaths by the machine). Really feeling the emotions of what that anniversary meant was a luxury I didn’t have time to entertain. I was still, for a full year, in zombie mode. Marching through what needed to be done. Pushing the pain away, hiding it somewhere deep down. But pain doesn’t work like that, does it. It can’t be hidden forever. It will always find you and for me, here it is…in the form of those anniversaries.